JUNE 29, 2008
I have seen the trailer for Humanoids From The Deep about a dozen times (including once or twice at the New Beverly itself), and always thought it looked amazing. Rapist fishmen attacking bad actresses on the beach? Sign me up! But I had a sneaking suspicion that the film would not live up to the trailer, and now that I’ve finally seen it, I know I was right. Before the film, we were told (by the film’s editor and co-producer) that the film was made, and then Roger Corman (bless him) decided it needed more exploitation type elements, i.e. nude girls being killed. Another director went back and added these scenes, the bulk of which were the ones used in the trailer, and the result is a film with MPD.
In reality, the movie is almost Crichton-like in its execution: we have a few assorted science and doctor and everyman types banding together to study/fight a common enemy, in this case, rapist fishmen. There’s also (sigh) a real estate subplot that adds to the fairly serious tone of the film. Hell, even the actors are pretty respectable – Vic Morrow, Doug McClure, etc.
But the film’s real draw is, of course, the kills. And those scenes are great in that sleazy, Grindhouse-y way. But they are so few in number, and jarringly edited into the narrative, that they only remind you how dull the rest of the movie is in comparison. It’s not that the original movie elements were BAD; they just aren’t as amusing as the newer stuff. You almost wish that Corman pulled a Warner Bros and had Renny Harlin (or whoever this particular new director was) reshoot the entire film.
That said... it’s still worth a look. Rob Bottin’s rapist fishmen makeup is fantastic, and the score is by none other than James Horner, long before he began winning awards and composing nearly identical scores for every big epic movie that Hans Zimmer or John Williams are too busy to do themselves. And even though there’s not a lot of rapist fishmen action, there’s plenty of other stuff, like a great bar fight and a ridiculous explosion.
It’s also curious how straight it is. It’s almost like they were trying to make a serious movie, which is not uncommon for Corman, but you still gotta wonder why he didn’t order more nudity/violence right from the start. No one goes to a Corman movie for the intellectual benefits, and by this time (1980) he should have known that. Had the whole movie reflected the ridiculous and exploitative nature of the reshoot scenes, this movie could be a masterpiece. But the insistence on being, you know, a real movie at times, ultimately weighs it down. A shame, really.
Also: the end sets up a sequel, which we never got. Curses!
What say you?